May 2, 2018 Common Good

Possibility Begins with Language

The evocation of an alternative reality consists at least in part in the battle for language and the legitimization of a new rhetoric. The language of the empire is surely the language of managed reality, of production and schedule and market. But that language will never permit or cause freedom because there is no newness in it. Doxology is the ultimate challenge to the language of managed reality, and it alone is the universe of discourse in which energy is possible.[1]

The alternative reality we’ve been discussing, and working to build, includes language. It is in our “utterance” that the new reality becomes imaginable. When we are afraid to say it, we drift into conversations of blame and excuses. Consider the three forms of energizing languagethat Brueggemann describes:

  1. Energy comes from the embrace of the inscrutable darkness.
  2. Energy comes in the statement of new reality (on the side of the oppressed)
  3. Energizing language names a new freedom

What are ways you can name freedom in your community? How might you embrace the darkness as real, painful, and refuse to let it be explained away? How might you name a new framework, and abundant possibility and beauty in those places frequently exploited or diminished? Last, what does it mean to give voice to the glory (doxa) that you see?

How might we celebrate a freedom and energy that is available and at work in the very space and lives that we and others inhabit, rather than waiting for the external language of empire to “authorize” those experiences or for the market to validate them?



[1]Brueggemann, Walter. Prophetic Imagination: Revised Edition (p. 14-18). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

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